Our Founder's Story
I was twenty years old and diagnosed with terminal brain cancer... that was in 2006.
My name is Cody Guy. I'm the longest living glioblastoma brain cancer survivor at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
When I was in fifth grade my dad was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer. We closed our family restaurant in Panama City Beach and moved to Gainesville Florida where Shands hospital is, at UF. We first moved into a low-end motel in a sketchy area where the nurses would walk me to the bus stop a block away. After a few weeks, we were able to get into a 'Hope Lodge'. It's a Ronald McDonald house, but for adults. They're for out-of-town cancer patients to stay while they're actively going through treatment. After my father's chemo and radiation we were able to move into a small 2-bedroom apartment where I grew up through high school.
After graduation, I brought my mom to Dallas to spend time with her mother who had dementia. I got a job while my mom was my 'wita's caretaker. She passed away five months later and within a week I was rushed to the hospital after having a black-out seizure at work.
I was in the middle of taking peoples' orders at the restaurant and suddenly felt dizzy, disoriented and nauseated. Somewhat embarrassed, I excused myself and hurried to the bathroom. The last thing I remember was grabbing the trash can to throw up. I came-to in the dining room. The staff said they found me standing, facing the wall and looking up. They had to break the door to get in. I was later admitted into the hospital when they found a plumb-size tumor in my brain.
After a week of poking and prodding to make sure the mass hadn't spread to my brain from somewhere else in my body, they wheeled me into surgery; mom and dad by my side. What got me wasn't that I could pass on the table, that'd be easy. My heart felt for my parents who were going to be burying their son in a few months .
I came out of recovery six hours later with staples running up the side of my head and a screw holding a plate of hot appetizers... Nah, the screw, which isn't loose, is holding a metal plate they put in to keep my skull together until the bones fused properly.
I went through the brutal 'standard of care.' After brain surgery, I had weeks of daily radiation straight through the cranium and months of chemotherapy. The journey has had its ups and downs, ins and outs, literally.
Because of the history of cancer that runs on my dad's side of the family, we did some genetic testing and I was diagnosed with a cancer syndrome that comes with an 80% chance of colon cancer development over my lifetime. The other cancers occur at varying percentages, with brain actually being the least likely to happen.
I undergo annual colonoscopies, tri-annual endoscopies, tri-annual urine screenings to check for blood in the bladder, an annual dermatology visit and brain MRIs every 6 months. I take 5,800mg of medicine every day for seizure control. The three currently run over $6k each month and grow in cost year after year as do all of the procedures, doctor appointments and follow-up visits.
It's been 17 years since then. I have a weak left hand and some of my hair hasn't grown back, but I can walk and talk and didn't lose my personality, something I had to sign a waiver for before beginning treatment.
Having my life seemingly run by cancer, I began to focus on finding safe and effective long-term prevention and treatment strategies. There are areas that can't be monitored and a lifetime low-dose chemo is, well, insane.
The ideal cancer treatment will safely stop cell proliferation, induce cancer cell death, inhibit a tumor’s ability to obtain a food supply and prevent metastasis by inhibiting cancer cell migration, adhesion and tissue invasion. It would have low to no side effects or signs of toxicity. It would ideally boost the existing treatments’ anticancer effects while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue.
Surprisingly, I found that the National Institutes of Health claims that cannabis is a complementary and alternative medicine. Cancer.gov goes through the well-known side effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment (nausea, vomiting, pain, insomnia, anxiety) as being treatable by cannabis molecules.
Then, as if "there's nothing to see here", the National Cancer Institute details the multiple ways that cannabis compounds directly fight cancer itself and boost the efficacy of standard treatments while protecting healthy cells. They cite over 30 sources to make their case…
"Cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of tumors. Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis invasion and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their non-transformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death."
This was maddening. Just in my own case, I should have been put on an antiproliferative, proapoptotic and antiangiogenic medication as soon as they found the mass. They then should have started a treatment plan including cannabinoids as adjunct agents to lessen the amount of standard therapies needed. Then, if those therapies caused any side effects, cannabinoids could have been used to provide relief.
There are no other treatments or protocols to date that may treat as many cancers and their side effects in as many ways with such low toxicity profiles as effectively and efficiently as cannabinoid-based therapy. This treatment ought to be the first-line option in every hospital and oncology clinic, especially those focusing on childhood cancers!
Even if we had the funding today, there would still be a decade of research and development before a patient gets the medicine in their hands. We cannot wait for politicians to catch-up with science.
It was from this dilemma that our nonprofit formed… I thought, ‘we can do our own clinical trials, or the closest thing to them: case studies.’ We are going to follow patients willing to share their images and reports to build a portfolio of cases to use as the most detailed anecdotal survey yet.
I founded "Hemp it Forward", a cannabis-based nonprofit to increase the quality of life of cancer patients, gather valuable data and raise funds for trials.
Through partnerships with Texas hemp producers, we will be able to provide whole-plant hemp extract
This project isn’t opposed to clinical trials, I just know that it’s going to take a lot of data to bring in the capital, and these case studies are the best bet in solidifying sustainable funding. Hemp is legal in all 50 states so we’ll start with what we have.
This has been the logic…
I need a mix to “prevent and or treat” genetically-driven neoplasms.
Why not produce it to where others can access what I myself trust and use?
Why not start a nonprofit and donate the mix to qualifying cancer patients?
Why not use that opportunity to build a portfolio of case studies to spur clinical trials?
So, I partnered with the largest family owned, seed-to-sale, hemp company in the DFW Metroplex: Power Biopharms
You can join us on our journey as we grow, by donating time, talent or funds.
Visit hempitforward.org for more information, volunteer opportunities, and to make your tax deductible donation today!